dvijas and non-dvijas in the shaiva cults

As we argued earlier the kAlAmukhas were rather orthodox, even if electic, followers of the Astika path. Their intellectual prelidictions were rather clear, and they philosophical abilities are also strongly suggested from what material that survives of the shakti pariShad, mainly in the Kannada country, and the siMha parishad in the Andhra and Tamil country. Their Kashmirian precursors were also strongly intellectual brahmins (the kAshmira paNDitas of the inscriptions) who originally coexisted with their cousins who were proponents of other tantric schools like shrikula and trika. This is in contrast with the stark unorthodoxy of the Lingayatas or vIrashaivas who followed them.

The vaiShNava achArya rAmAnuja in his shrI bhAshya provides a particular disparaging criticism of shaivas (shri bhAShya ii.2.35-37):
“Likewise the shaivas state that even men belonging to the non-dvija ranks can attain brahmaNa-hood and yati-hood by means of certain rites. It is said : one instantly becomes a brAhmaNa merely by the process of initiation. A man becomes a yati by undertaking the kapAla vrata.” Thus, the vaiShNava saint tries to generally dismiss all the shaivas as being violators of orthodoxy and hence heretics. This is in strong contrast to the actual behavior of the most orthodox shaiva group the kAlAmukhas. rAmAnuja accurately records 4 schools of shiva worshippers: kApAlikas, kAlAmukhas, pAshupatas and shaivas. So, evidently the vaiShNava polemicist is using the kApAlikas as primary models and guilt by association to dismiss the shaivas as a group. Similar lists of 4 shaiva sects are found in the purANas and the tantric paddhati of ishAnashiva.

The vAmAna purANa (6.86-92) in particular states that the:
1) shaiva sect as founded by a vasiShTha of the shakti lineage and his brahmin disciple gopAyana.
2) the pAshupatas were founded by a bharadvAja and his pupil the kShatriya somakeshvara.
3) the kAlAmukhas were founded by an Apastamba and his brahmin pupil krAtheshvara.
4) the kApAlikas (mahAvratins) were founded by the vaishya dhanada and his shudra student arNodara.

Thus, 3 well known shaiva lineages are clearly of Brahminical provenance, as evidenced by the early texts, the shvetAshavatara upaniShad, atharvashiras and atharva mahApAshupata vrata grantha. Thus, the general claim of all shaivas being anti-vedic or anti-brahminical is patently false. Even more importantly, there is evidence that even the kApAlikas had a strong brahminical component. This, in any case lays to rest certain modern and medieaval claims (like that of the learned tantric polemicist shri lakShmidhara) that brahmins were at loggerheads with kApAlika or kAlAmukha ways. For example, the brahmin vaisheShika scholar,named dashapuriyan, from vEDal in Tamil Nad was a kAlAmukha of hArita gotra and a practioner the taittirIya school (Rangacharya’s collection of stone inscriptions fromTamil Nad).

In this context we should point out an important inscription brought to my notice by R.
The inscription from Nirmand village in the Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh states that the king sharvavarman installed a li~nga of kapAleshavara in around 576-580 AD. His successor samudrasena in the 600s provided the nirmaNDa agrahAra to a school of atharvavedic brahmins for preserving the atharvaNa shruti and maintaining the kApAla rites. Thus, pointing out to relatively early associations of brahmins with the kApAlika stream.

Finally, we look at the root sources of the tantric worship of shiva. This escathology proposes that 5 streams of tantras emerged from the 5 faces of shiva:
bhuta tantras: sadyojAta
vAma tantras: vAmadeva
bhairava tantras: aghora
gAruDa tantras: tatpuruSha
siddhAnta tantras: IshAna
The 28 tantras = 10 shivAgamas and 18 rudrAgamas form the siddhAnta tantras which are followed by the sect called shaiva by rAmAnuja and the other middle period sources.
The 32 bhairava tantras are the tantras of the kApAlikas (but not the kAlAmukhas). The bhairava tantras include the most terrifying Agamas, like the ghoraM, bhImaM, vetAlamardanaM and kapAlaM, from the abhichArika rites of which there is little chance of escape.

The kUrma purANa clarifies that the pAshupatas were smArta brahmins or kShatriyas. They actually followed the institutes of the veda and the dharma shAstras. Thus, we may conclude that within the shaivas the dominant force were Brahmins, though there was considerable diversity within them.

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on March 26, 2005.

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